When Karen and Richard Carpenter—one of the most popular sibling singing acts in recording history—cut We’ve Only Just Begun 10 years ago, they gave thousands of American newlyweds a favorite first-dance tune. Yet to the Carpenters, its message remained an elusive dream. Though both had had love affairs, neither could seem to find a mate. But last week in the Crystal Room of the Beverly Hills Hotel, a 50-member choir finally sang that song for Karen, 30, as she waited to join her man at the altar. Her choice: Southern California real estate tycoon Thomas Burris, 39, member of the Reagan finance committee and the boyishly handsome divorced father of an 18-year-old son. “He’s just the type of guy I was looking for,” said Karen after the vows, resplendent in a white gown of mousseline de soie modeled on an 18th-century riding ensemble. “He’s strong and at the same time gentle, and he gets along fabulously with my family.” (Burris had not been really aware of the Carpenters’ music, but he probably knew the monstrous apartment complexes they owned called Close to You and We’ve Only Just Begun.)
Karen’s mother claims credit for pushing her daughter out to a dinner party at the chic Ma Maison restaurant last April when she felt like begging off. “Go,” said Mother Carpenter, three days after her own 45th wedding anniversary. “You might meet a nice man.” Karen met Burris that night, by June they were engaged, and friends like Olivia Newton-John began to notice a change in Karen. “She began to relax,” says Olivia, who wept throughout the ceremony. “She’s a wonderful girl—and she beat me to it.”
The ceremony was as lushly romantic as the Carpenters’ oeuvre. As the groom stood at the altar, the scent of gardenias mixed in the air with the strains of John Bettis’ and Richard’s latest composition, Because We Are in Love, which they wrote for the occasion. During the ceremony, which was performed by the Rev. Robert Schuler, Richard sang a moving wedding prayer. Then there was a sit-down luncheon for 450 capped by a five-tiered chocolate cake, which Karen duly sliced for her man, unimpeded by her new 10-karat pear-shaped ring.
After a South Pacific honeymoon they will return to a two-and-a-half-acre estate in Bel Air—and their work. “We’re both business-oriented,” says Burris. “She likes her career and I like mine.” Karen admits that while cutting their 10th album during the courtship, “I wasn’t really concentrating—for the first time in 11 years.” Did she worry that Mr. Right would never come along? “I was beginning to wonder,” she blushed when the wedding was over, “but I waited, and look what I found.”